Thursday January 6th, 2011
Q&A: Meet the Artist
To artist Bonnie Fillenwarth, the spirit of fabled female fighters known as the Amazons is still alive. She explores the topic in "Amaonomachy," an exhibition this month at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. The works filter the Amazon myth through the lives of breast cancer patients, with the hope of raising awareness and money to fight the disease.
A portion of the sales during the exhibition will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Fillenwarth,24 is a member of the Stutz Artists Association and has a studio in downtown Indianapolis. A graduate of Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, she has taken part in 15 solo or group shows.
Her idea for the show was influenced by a trip she took in 2008 as part of her college studies. During a summer in Athens, Greece, she saw statues, buildings, and other artwork displaying the country's rich mythology.
Over and over the theme of Amazons emerged.
Fillenwarth was drawn to the power of these women, how they were feared for their intensity and warlike nature.
After returning to Indiana, a class project that paired her with Wishard Memorial Hospital helped make the connection between breast cancer survivors and the Amazons.
"I kept thinking about the warriors and breast cancer, and I just kept sketching them over the months," Fillenwarth said. " I had a few pieces done and more sketches and ideas for more. There was enough potential where I could do an entire whole show."
"Amazonomachy" consists of 10 oil paintings ranging in size from a few square inches to 8 feet tall.
The images are powerful, showing women preparing or engaging in battle. A Painting titled "Push" shows a warrior struggling behind her shield. The outline creates the shape of a breast.
In another, "Biopsy," a helmeted fighter thrusts a spear into an amorphous form.
Fillenwarth's style is colorful and abstract, relying on sharp lines and distinct forms to bring the images to life.
The show is on display through Jan 24 at the Artsgarden, 50 W. Washington St, Indianapolis. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Where did the idea for "Amazonomachy" originate?
Back in college, we partnered with Wishard Hospital on their "Works of Hope and Healing." What we did was do out artwork, focused on how it relates to the hospital. I did a piece with my amazon warrior, to link it with breast cancer. I studied classical art in college, and I've just been reading Greek mythology since I was in middle school, so I was very familiar with the stories. When I got out of school, I decided I wanted to revisit that and do a whole series of it. That's where it all started.
What does "Amazonomachy" mean?
It's a Greek term that means "Amazon battle." That's become a theme that Greeks have done all over, the battles with the Amazons. Its on the Parthenon, and it's everywhere.
With your interest in this theme, why is this something that you wanted to explore further?
I got out of school, and I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to go do graduate work yet. I knew I needed to get a studio right away. Too many art students, they graduate from art school, and then you never hear from them again. I knew I had to get busy and do something. I thought about what I was doing, and that was the thing I wanted to do first.
What do you hope people take away after looking at these paintings?
I really wanted to do artwork with a cause. I hope they get some awareness, and if I can get some pieces that sell, I'm putting a percentage of that towards Susan G. Komen research. There's always a big push for awareness in October, because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it really is a year-round thing.
-- Ryan Trares